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4 Basic Criteria for Evaluating a WordPress Theme Framework

I will soon be writing reviews for some of the main WordPress plugins and theme frameworks that I use in my client projects. But before I do that, I wanted to write a post explaining the basic criteria I use to evaluate a theme because they are not necessarily the same you’ll read about in most other reviews out there that focus on workflow features alone. I’ve read many theme framework reviews in the last 3 years and I found most of them to be lacking in substance. That’s not because they were bad reviews or because the people writing them were doing a bad job, they were just aimed at a specific kind of user (non-coders, beginners or casual users) and limited themselves to what I consider “surface” criteria that become far less relevant when you build Web sites with WordPress for a living. When your business and reputation depend on the quality of the themes and other products you install on client sites, “features” like drag and drop and especially “no coding required” quickly take a second or third seat to more important matters like performance, stability and flexibility.

So here I’ll explain 4 of the basic criteria I use to evaluate a theme framework’s suitability for inclusion in my workflow to be used on specific projects. I’m concentrating on issues I rarely if ever see mentioned in theme reviews so I won’t talk about things like ease of use or flexibility of any workflow related features here. Those things will be included in my specific theme framework reviews. I hope this article will help you make more informed decisions if you are looking for a theme framework to use on a client site and are not sure which one would be the best fit for your workflow and your client’s needs.

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The State of my 2013 WordPress Toolset – Themes

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When I wrote the 2012 version of this post last year, I did not expect it to become the most commented post on this blog ever. It made me realize that there is a real hunger for information about premium WordPress themes and frameworks out there, a need for opinions from people working with some of these products every day and who are not afraid to speak their mind. I like to think I do that here.

I also try to make a distinction between what frameworks would work well for professional WordPress designers and developers versus casual users. The former is what interests me and most reviews out there are targeted at the latter. Also, you often get a review from someone who tinkered with a framework on a test site for a few minutes or hours. I work with the themes I mention here all the time. Testing a theme framework for a couple hours will not give you a perspective on things like:

  • How well do upgrades and updates work? Do updates typically break client sites layouts? Do you need to tweak your child themes every time you upgrade the parent theme?
  • How does the framework perform on a real live site with real traffic? Is the site slower or faster with this framework compared to others?
  • How does the developer handle support? How fast, how helpful are they. This is key when your client work depends on a product like a theme so heavily.
  • Etc…

This post is also a kind of intro to other posts I’ll write in the coming weeks and months where I explain in more detail the reasons I’d choose a WordPress theme framework over others and I’ll finally write some real in-depth theme framework reviews based on these criteria. That is already started.

But for now, here’s the state of my 2013 WordPress themes toolset…

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The Real Pixelyzed 3.0 is Live (and Back with Headway)

Sometime last week I finally finished the “real” pixelyzed 3.0 redesign and switched the theme of the site back to Headway. I’m very happy to be back to Headway and will talk about it more in future posts as I truly think it’s the best WordPress theme framework for professionals doing client sites on WordPress.

The 3.0 design will probably be tweaked and evolve with time but I do not consider it transitional as I’d done with all the versions between it and the original pixelyzed 1.0 design (the one with the “pixels” grid). It is purposefully simple and I will help me concentrate on creating content.Continue Reading

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Coming Up On pixelyzed.com In 2011

To say that I have been busy in the latter half of 2010 would be an understatement… my lack of posting here or on my company blog is a testament to it. But I’ve been learning a lot and plan to share my best finds as usual. So, here are a few things that are coming up here soon…

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New Design & New Headway Theme Framework

I finally took the time to put up a new design I can live with for this blog (for now… this is again temporary). I trashed the design with the gray header and took a new direction. This uses the same logo as v2 and integrates design elements from the original pixelyzed.com like the pixels/boxes but with a different treatment. I also tried to simplify as much as possible. I still have some typographic tweaking to do but at least I can live with what I have for now.  But in the background, I’m going back to the drawing board and starting from scratch.Continue Reading